Following the earthquake in Mexico last week, chaos ensued as family and friends desperately searched for loved ones and thousands were left without food, shelter, or access to medical supplies. As first responders and other volunteers began pouring into the area, the importance of digital networks in bolstering relief efforts quickly became apparent.
Crises require all hands on deck. This presents an opportunity for companies to step up and demonstrate their leadership by engaging their employees in relief efforts.
A few simple steps using digital media can connect your company in a meaningful way. Here are 4 tips you can use:
Tip #1 – UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL IS WHAT MAKES A REAL IMPACT
A digital campaign is more potent when you tell the story of a single person or family – as opposed to sharing data on hundreds of people. Tell a story and keep the focus on real people. Consider illustrating your efforts with short video clips or moving photos.
Justin Wedes, Founder and CEO of the PR firm The Liberati Group explains that while the Salvation Army touts the motto “Doing the Most Good,” the organization’s marketing campaigns actually focus on their work with just one person or family at a time.
“The purpose of marketing is not just to trumpet one’s own successes, but to inspire viewers to take action with you,” says Wedes. “When people see you creating positive experiences, they want to be involved. When the people you’re helping look like them or share their struggles, they feel an attraction to you and your work.”
Look around your organization. Do you have an employee with medical training, translation skills, or a background in architectural engineering? These types of skills are valuable in a disaster zone. Sending one of your employees to the area and then circulating the story via your digital media platforms can create an authentic impression.
Tip #2 – BECOME A USEFUL SOURCE OF INFORMATION
Digital media is powerful. It allows geographically dispersed individuals to virtually congregate in a single area of interest for greater impact. Rescue and emergency aid organizations need as many resources as possible, including money and supplies. Organizing these relief efforts can be very helpful.
Consider using your digital media platform to direct people to local charities or other organizations where they can send in a donation. But first, check your sources: use an organization like Charity Navigator to make sure that any charity you promote is legitimate.
Using hashtags are also a popular way for finding, following, and contributing to a cause. Do a quick survey of the top hashtags supporting the cause and then integrate them into your digital campaign.
Tip #3 – GET THE WORD OUT BY SPREADING OUT
Keep your core message simple and sleek, and implement it across an array of digital platforms. By using a multi-channel approach and spreading your disaster relief campaign across several social media outlets, you’re ensuring maximum exposure.
As mentioned above in Tip #2, consider using hashtags to organize your content around specific aspects of the relief effort. You can even create your own campaign-specific hashtag!
Speaking of spreading the word… open your contact book and take a look. Do you know any online influencers who might be able to leverage your organization’s relief efforts? If it’s a good cause, most people won’t take too much convincing to get on board.
Tip #4 – CONSIDER THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
When disaster strikes, people are generally inspired to respond immediately. Keep the momentum going by talking about not only what you plan on doing today, but what your organization or company will contribute in the coming weeks or months.
Often times, when current news around an issue begins to recede, so do the donations. But communities recovering from a natural disaster might be in desperate need of ongoing support. By including updates on your digital media platform – including short video clips and photos – your organization can continue to shine a light on the cause.
Natural disasters create an opportunity for us to learn the real value of our networks. In any digital campaign – whether it’s marketing a new product or building a brand – keeping the focus on real people is a smart way to ensure real impact.
Our relationships online should ideally support our offline interactions. By incorporating a few key tips, your organization or company can leverage its digital platforms and networks to encourage others to get involved.